A NIGHT INSIDE THE GREAT PYRAMID 59
Station to the local chief, Major Mackersey. I signed a book which was handed to me and which made the police responsible for my safety till the following day. A station constable was detailed to accompany me as far as the Pyramid, and to give instructions to the armed policeman who is placed outside the building to guard it at night.
"We are taking a risk in leaving you alone inside all night. You won't blow up the Pyramid, will you?'* said Major Mackersey, humorously, as we shook hands in parting.
"I promise you not only that, but I shall not even run away with it!"
"I am afraid we shall have to lock you in," he added. "We always shut the entrance to the Pyramid at dusk with a locked iron grille. So you will be a prisoner for twelve hours."
"Excellent! To-day, no residence could be more desirable to me than such a prison."
The approach to the Pyramids runs along a road shaded by lebbek trees. Houses appear on its sides at rare intervals. Finally the road winds gradually up the side of the plateau on which the Pyramids themselves are built, ending in a steep incline. As I drove up the avenue I reflected that of all the travellers who had taken the same direction for several centuries past, few if any had come on so curious a mission as mine.
I mounted the small hill across the western shore of the Nile to where the Great Pyramid and its good companion, the Sphinx, maintain silent watch over Northern Africa.
The giant monument loomed up ahead of me, as I walked across the mingled sand and stones. Once more I gazed at the triangular sloping flanks which enclose the oldest architecture that the world knows to-day, at the enormous blocks which stretch away from base to apex in diminishing perspective. The perfect simplicity of this building, its utter freedom from any trace of ornament, the absence of any curves amid all these straight lines—these things did not in any way detract from the massive grandeur of this creation.